As the semester at my Mathayom-level government school came to a close, the students in the Mini English Program (MEP) got the chance to go to two different camps, one in Cha Am beach near Hua Hin, and the other in Green Beach, also near Hua Hin. Naturally, being that our 70-ish students were going off to camps, their teachers (being us) went along as well.
The first camp allowed the students to miss a day of school just before the beginning of final exams. They loved that. So did their teachers. On the way to the camp hotel, we stopped off at a mangrove tree farm. The students quite enjoyed that; we all took longtail boats to a river where everyone got out and planted a mangrove tree. I stayed in the boat after having about twenty gigantic ants crawl on me after stepping out of the boat for a mere ten seconds. Whimp, I know, but mutant ants? Count me out.
The camp itself was run by staff apparently affiliated with the hotel we stayed in - and literally in the middle of nowhere. As in, no 7/11 stores nearby. For a moment, I wondered if I was even still in Thailand!
Although I wouldn't say it was the most organized of camps, the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves - even the math activities! That was rather amusing; as their teachers, the seven of us that went to the camp with the students, walked around and helped the students with their activities. When the math section of the program came to pass, I had several students asking for my help with math brain teasers... and I could do nothing but smile. Sorry kids, your science teacher is a complete imbecile when it comes to math.
The camp only lasted one night, and the next day we returned to Bangkok. Naturally, of the two coach buses we took, I chose the one that broke down near Central Changwattana as we came back into the city. Even so, it only set us back by an hour as we waited for a replacement coach.
The second camp was two nights and in a quite nice resort in Green Beach. For this camp, we (the teachers) were "in charge" of the students and their activities. This camp included several hours of games both at the resort and on the beach, a cool little science experiment involving batteries and making a wire spin like an electric motor (cheers to my colleague for that great idea), and a Hawaiian night that really was more of a junior high school dance. The students had a good bit of free time, and all in all I think they had a pretty good time.
While camps such as these certainly exist in Western schools, I have never personally been to one with such well-behaved students who seem to enjoy themselves so much. Although the teachers were technically supervising, I must say: term break camps are another perk of teaching in Thailand.